3 May - 2 June 2007
Michael Stevenson is pleased to present new work by Conrad Botes in his first solo exhibition at the gallery. The show features large-scale pieces in diverse media – including an installation of carved and painted sculptures titled Satan’s Choir at the Gates of Heaven; a comic strip, The Passion of the White Rat, comprising 58 reverse-glass painted panels; a series of portraits of Weeping Zombies and a painting on canvas incorporating screenprinting and inset with reverse-glass painted roundels.
As a white male Afrikaner who came of age in the late 1970s and 80s, Botes’ imagination is embedded with the evils of apartheid, its obsession with power and repression, the violence and anarchy of the times and the moralising role of the Dutch Reformed Church. His latest work is less overtly concerned with politics however, opening itself up to wider concerns. A sense of masculine identity in crisis runs throughout the show, as does Botes’ distinctive comic aesthetic and dark humour.
His work as an artist dovetails seamlessly with the comix he produces as Konradski. Together with Anton Kannemeyer (Joe Dog), he founded the magazine Bitterkomix in 1992, the title of which encapsulates both the bittersweet sensibility and the biting satire that run throughout his work. The Big Bad Bitterkomix Handbook was launched at the gallery in 2006, concurrent with an exhibition of individual and collaborative work by the two artists.
Botes was born in 1969 in Ladismith in the Western Cape and lives in Cape Town. He has exhibited extensively both locally and internationally. Most recently he and Kannemeyer were included on Africa Comics at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. Botes won the Absa l’Atelier award in 2004, and recent solo exhibitions have taken place at the Absa Gallery, Johannesburg (2005), and Johannesburg Art Gallery (2004). Group exhibitions include Turbulence at Hangar-7 in Salzburg, Austria (2007); the 9th Havana Biennale, Cuba (2006); New Painting at the KZNSA Gallery, Unisa Art Gallery and Johannesburg Art Gallery (2006); + Positive, the Biennale of Merano, Italy (2004); Africa Screams: The return of evil in African art and cinema at the Afrikazentrum der Universitat Bayreuth, Germany (2004); Passport to South Africa at the Centro Culturale Trevi, Bolzano, Italy (2002) and In Fumo at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bergamo, Italy (2001).
Satan's Choir at the Gates of Heaven
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